Campus navigation still challenging for students with disabilities

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2020 is the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For students with mobility issues, Pacific University’s campus is still difficult to navigate thirty years on. Most of Pacific’s buildings were built in 1990, when the ADA was implemented, and their inaccessibility continues to trouble students.

Certain buildings have gained notoriety for their inaccessibility namely the University Center (UC) and some of the dorms. Kyla Wilson, a sophomore at Pacific who struggles with mobility issues, says: “By far the most difficult is the UC. I’m pretty restrained to whatever floor of the UC I get in on, also Walter and Mac are super inaccessible.”  

It’s not just dorms that students have trouble accessing. Most classroom buildings are out of the way, and don’t comply with ADA regulations. When asked if their school life has been impacted by their mobility issues, Wilson said: “Yeah my school life has depending on where a classroom is. There have been days where I haven’t been able to get to class. I haven’t been able to get very far in general.” 

Luckily for students, Pacific has the Office of Accessibility and Accommodations. OAA’s Director Kim Garrett explained “Our job is to notify faculty that an individual may have trouble climbing stairs or accessing different floors… in some cases it’s a very simple fix.” OAA works with students very closely to make sure their needs are met, whether it be a change in dorm buildings to a more accessible one, or even getting classes to switch which buildings they’re being taught in if the room is inaccessible. OAA implores students to come to their offices in Clark 226 and 227A if they need anything.

October of 2019 OAA organized events for Accessibility Awareness month, including panels from people at Outdoor Pursuits and Adventures Unlimited on how they’re making the outdoors more accessible. Aliya Christianson, a sophomore at Pacific who also deals with mobility issues, explained what students and faculty can do to help: “Talk about it. It’s a long game we have to play to get more accessibility on our campus. But the more people talk about it, then maybe the higher-ups will notice it’s an issue and will do something about it.”


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